Assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact on someone else.

It will normally take the form of a physical attack. The attack does not need to cause injury for it to be seen as an assault in law. An assault can be carried out using hands and feet or weapons such as sticks, bricks or knives. It is also classed as assault if someone spits on you or threatens to set their dog on you.

Aggravated assault makes the crime more serious. Assault can be aggravated in several ways, for example, by the use of a weapon, if the victim was elderly or a child, or if the victim was assaulted in their own home.

Experiencing an assault can be extremely frightening. As well as possibly being hurt or injured physically, you can be very seriously affected emotionally. You might find it hard to deal with the feeling of being powerless when threatened.

Often people are hurt by someone they know or love which results in complex emotions. As well as the experience itself, you’ve had your trust broken, which can affect your relationships with other people. It can also feel more difficult to speak out against people you know or love or report the crime to the police.

You might feel guilty or ashamed about what has happened, but it’s important to remember that you haven’t done anything wrong, and that we can help.

Following an assault, you may experience:
• A fear of leaving the house
• Feeling unsafe
• Finding it hard to believe what has happened
• Shock
• Flashbacks to the incident
• Nightmares
• Insomnia
• Shaking
• A sense of being overwhelmed
• Anger
• Anxiety
• Confusion

It is a normal reaction to a crime to have some or all of these emotions and sometimes this can affect your ability to carry out your normal daily tasks.

Crime can impact you in many ways – emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and practically. That’s why Victim Support Scotland is here to help.

Our support workers and volunteers are available to you in person, over the phone and in the courts throughout Scotland. We support you no matter who you are, and no matter what the crime.

The criminal justice system can be confusing, and we can provide you with practical advice and information to make this process easier. We promise you:

  • We will take the time to listen to you
  • We won’t judge you
  • We will provide you with support in whatever way best suits you
  • We will explain your rights in a way you can understand

Our trained and experienced volunteers deliver support throughout Scotland. There is a Victim Support office in every local authority area and we can support you going to court or in your own community (at home or in our offices).

You can access our services regardless of whether you have reported the crime or not to the police. Our services are free, independent and confidential.*

*We will only alert someone else if we feel you are at risk to yourself or to others.

Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help